Creamy Dairy-Free Pesto

The secret ingredient to my creamy dairy-free pesto is…water. Years ago, thanks to my magazine test kitchen friends, I learned that water is often the solution to many cooking conundrums.

The idea came to me when I was eating spaghetti with pesto sauce at a popular New York City restaurant. I was fascinated by its bright green color and creaminess. When I asked the chef what he put in the pesto, he just replied that he used all of the “usual” ingredients.

After dozens of attempts to replicate his version of the Italian classic, I drizzled in some water in place of more oil to make my pesto sauce a looser consistency that would easily coat pasta. Low and behold, the grassy green color came into clear view!

Here are some ideas for cooking with pesto:

1. Toss with 1 pound gluten-free pasta.

2. Use as salad dressing.

3. Drizzle over omelets and broil.

4. Brush meats before grilling.

5. Stir into cold or hot soups.

Please let me know if you have any ingredient substitution needs and I will be happy to give you my best solutions. Just leave me a message on my Facebook page, Silvana’s Kitchen.

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For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.

Let’s get cooking,



Creamy Dairy-Free Pesto

Yield: 4


2 cups packed basil leaves

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

½ cup pine nuts or walnuts

½ cup grated parmesan cheese, dairy-free parmesan alternative or more pine nuts



  1. Using a food processor, puree the basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts, parmesan (or more nuts) and about ½ teaspoon salt. With the motor running, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons water until you achieve your desired consistency.

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